“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” –James Michener
As I mentioned in a previous post, one of the things that the professors here in Orvieto encourage us to explore is encounter the town more than just visually. One of the other faculties that use—and a very favorable one at that—is using the sense of taste.
Of course, the food here is fantastic. We’ve had pasta or rice at nearly every meal. The vegetables actually taste good—for example, today for pranzo (lunch) we had potatoes and carrots, but they were soft and cooked and swimming in olive oil and other seasons. Probably the most flavorful potatoes I’ve ever had. The gelato, of course, is glorious. The pastries are perfecto. And the deserts we always get are delicious.
But the culture of the Italian meal is also a little unique. It goes along with the Italian sense of timing. Lunch is the largest meal of the day. Our lunch is usually two or three courses—but not the typical series you would have in America. American courses include a soup or salad, an appetizer, followed by the main course and then, if your stomach can handle it, a dessert. Here in Italy, the courses consist of a pasta, followed by the second course being meat and vegetables. Sometimes there’s dessert.
They also dine at very different times. We in the program don’t sit down for lunch until 1 in afternoon, and when you at breakfast before 9 and have been sitting in class for three hours, one o’clock definitely feels a little late. And when we leave the restaurant, there are still people just coming in to sit down for their lunch. Cena (dinner) also takes place much later. Think sitting down at 8 o’clock. The dinner, of course is smaller and lighter, but the fact that it is so late keeps stomachs rumbling starting at about six. It’s all well worth the wait, though.
One thing that I appreciate about the meals, though, is that the serving sizes are by no means ginormous. In America, you go the restaurant and can barely finish your plate because it’s loaded with fatty greasy junk food. In Italy, on the other hand, the food you receive comes in reasonable sized portions, and it’s healthier. No wonder America has a problem with obesity. I will probably eat the healthiest this semester than any other semester of college.
Today I was also able to visit an Italian supermercado…and was thrilled to find Coca-Cola. I bought the Italian rendition, just to see how it compares. I’ll definitely be going back. They also have Chinese green tea. Win.